2017 Oscars: Best Picture

So it’s that time again – when I blow up your social media feeds…blah blah blah. This is the end of them. So once more into the breach…Best Picture. Etc etc…

BEST PICTURE – NOMINEES
ARRIVAL
Shawn Levy, Dan Levine, Aaron Ryder and David Linde, Producers

FENCES
Scott Rudin, Denzel Washington and Todd Black, Producers

HACKSAW RIDGE
Bill Mechanic and David Permut, Producers

HELL OR HIGH WATER
Carla Hacken and Julie Yorn, Producers

HIDDEN FIGURES
Donna Gigliotti, Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, Pharrell Williams and Theodore Melfi, Producers

LA LA LAND
Fred Berger, Jordan Horowitz and Marc Platt, Producers

LION
Emile Sherman, Iain Canning and Angie Fielder, Producers

MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
Matt Damon, Kimberly Steward, Chris Moore, Lauren Beck and Kevin J. Walsh, Producers

MOONLIGHT
Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, Producers

Who will win: La La Land
Who could win: Moonlight
Who should win: Hell or High Water
Who should be here: Eye in the Sky

So those of you who have stuck with me through all eight of these posts have realized a few themes running through the posts this year: (1) Not a lot to complain about, yet (2) Amy Adams is AWESOME AND GOT SCREWED, while (3) Hell and High Water and Eye in the Sky are both fabulous and criminally underrated films.

So let’s start there: Eye in the Sky got nominated for literally NOTHING, and that’s terrible. The film was fabulous, top to bottom, with a pulse-pounding story that barely had an ounce of fat on it. Timely, well thought out and acted. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and grab it on demand immediately.

Oh, and also: Hell and High Water, which at least got a few nominations, but is only in semi-serious play for one, and Best Picture ain’t it. It’s the best western produced in years, and no one realized it. It’s also one of the better heist films made in the last several years. It’s the best thing Chris Pine has ever done, close to the top for Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges as well.

So now that we’ve discussed what it WON’T be, let’s talk about who it WILL be. Most likely, the juggernaut that is La La Land is still in place to the home the top Oscar. It’s a fabulous film, and I’ve discussed it a lot through these blogs. It’s fun, emotional, satirical, optimistic and yet somehow even a little cynical. It’s the kind of big Hollywood film that runs the table at awards shows like this.

Coming right behind La La Land is a trio of low-budget indies in Moonlight, Lion and Manchester by the Sea. All are terrific films, but if I were choosing among them, I’d go with Manchester by the Sea. It’s a poignant story about the most unimaginable grief, probably some of the most stunning ever put on film. The quiet determination of its characters makes it all the more compelling, and keeps things rolling across 2 1/2 hours, even in this slow burn character piece.

It’s been a heck of a year for films, and I’ll leave you with my Twitter reviews and final rankings for all nine of these wonderful films.

9. Fences: Clinic in high end acting; Washington & Davis are both amazing as are those around them. Direction confident, pacing perfect 3.5/4*

8. Hacksaw Ridge: is an amazing story, well-told all around, with the best war scenes since Saving Private Ryan. A must see. 3.5/4

7. Hidden Figures: Amazing and timely story well told by its terrific cast. The energy helps hide some of the film’s cliches and flaws. 3.5/4*

6. Moonlight: Just hits you right in the gut, doesn’t it? Powerful, tender, compelling, disarming film that is truly an original work 4/4*

5. Lion: Story – amazing. Acting – near perfect. Photography – fantastic. Structure could have benefited from Slumdog-style shifting. 3.5/4*

4. Manchester By The Sea: Beautiful, raw drama filled with flawed, real characters. Slow burn, nuanced & deeply affecting. Affleck-amazing. 3.5/4*

3. La La Land: Note for note, almost fucking perfect. Loved every minute of it, and since musicals aren’t my cup of tea, that surprised me. 4/4*

2. Arrival: It’s stunning in scope; delivers way beyond expectations. Brilliantly acted by Adams et al. Villeneuve needs to make more films. 4/4*

1. Hell Or High Water: Some of the best characters I’ve seen in an original film in quite some time. Great story, pacing, photography. Must see 4/4

Programming note: I’ll post a list of my consolidated predictions on Sunday night, and an overall list of winners on Monday. Then I’m putting the blog in vacation mode until April 17.

Because I need to write a TV show.

Talk soon. – Jack